Tracey is 15 years old. Her home life is unstable, to say the least. Her father calls his children “accidents” and her depressed mother spends all her time smoking in front of the television. Discovering that Tracey has hypnotised her brother Sonny into believing that he is a dog, Tracey’s parents pack her off to the shrink. Tortured by puberty, Tracy is tormented at school by the other pupils. She seeks refuge in a dream world, where she imagines herself to be a rock star and movie queen. Billy Zero plays a large role in her dreams, but, although Tracey has fallen in love with this new boy at school, he doesn’t even acknowledge her existence. When Sonny disappears without a trace one day, Tracey puts all of this behind her in order to go out and look for him. Her search soon turns into an increasingly nightmarish odyssey. In the city she meets rent boy Lance,
who entices her into a seedy bar. When Lance gets involved in a fight, Tracey bursts out into the wintry night and, haunted by images of Sonny, collapses in a dark alley. Lance saves her from the approaching blizzard and takes her home with him. A few days later a hoodlum turns up, wanting Lance to return the money he owes him. Unable to pay up, Lance receives a brutal beating which only stops when he offers him Tracey instead of the money he owes him. After a violent struggle, the girl only just manages to escape – clad in no more than a shower curtain. This is how the viewer first encounters Tracey at the beginning of the film. But her story is by no means over.
The Tracey Fragments returned from the Berlin International Film Festival a winner, with sold-out screenings, sales and having earned the Manfred Salzgeber Prize. The Prize is dedicated to Manfred Salzgeber, the former Panorama director, who helped shape the Berlinale profile. A jury of three chooses a film "that broadens the boundaries of cinema today" from amongst the entries to the Panorama programme. The prize caps off a fantastic world premiere for the film with warm receptions by the Berlinale audiences. Bruce McDonald reported that the experience “surpassed our expectations” and regarding the award: “I am so honoured on behalf of the ‘Tracey’ team to win a prize for innovative filmmaking. It’s an amazing end to a great festival”.
- Manfred-Salzgeber-Prize (Bruce McDonald, 57th Berlin International Film Festival 2007)
- Best Canadian Feature Film (Bruce McDonald, Canadian Award 2007, Atlantic Film Festival)
- Best Canadian Actress (Ellen Page, Canadian Award, 2007, Atlantic Film Festival)
- Best Director (Bruce McDonald, Canadian Award 2007, Atlantic Film Festival)
- Canada's Top Ten Films of 2007
- Best Actress in a Canadian Film (Ellen Page, VFCC Award, 2008 Vancouver Film Critics Circle)
- Genie Award (Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, 28th Annual Genie Awards, 28th January 2008)
- Polly Award for Best Editing (4th Annual Polished Apple Awards, 26th February 2009)
- First feature film to use Mondrian multi-frame compositions for the entire length
- Filmed in just 14 days, but took 9 months to edit
- Ellen Page’s affection for the Patti Smith album Horses turned the title song into one of the film’s major metaphors
- “I’m very proud of this movie, having a great team including the astonishing talent of Ellen Page, to bring the story to life. The Tracey Fragments pushes the boundaries of cinematic language, using multi-frame to dazzling effect. Our main objective was to be emotional, not just stylish. We hope you truly experience this film, get inside the dizzy heart of Tracey Berkowitz and be a part of her journey.”
(director Bruce McDonald on the movie)
- “I think you do have to be careful for your mind and your body. When I was shooting Tracey there were days where you start losing it a bit.” [...] “I listen to music a lot when I work. I make a different playlist for each character that I play. And Tracey’s was, actually, really great.”
(Ellen Page on her experiences on the set; Source: www.dose.ca)
- "When we [McDonald and Maureen Medved, the author of the book on which the movie is based] wrote the screenplay, we didn't have this style in mind. When we got the smell that we actually might be able to make this and raise a little money for it, we began to think about it. I had been playing around with the idea of shooting a film on split screens for a while, but there were three reasons why we did it. One was to kind of visually re-create a teenaged kid having a nervous breakdown. We also needed something to separate it from the pack, in a simple and economical way, from the other 2,000 movies that Sundance or Toronto gets sent every year. The third was that the story is very simple. It's, 'I gotta find my brother.'”
(director Bruce McDonald on creating the movie and using split screen; Source: straight.com)
- “Getting Broken Social Scene to do the score, getting Ellen Page to be in it — these are very calculated decisions to say: We know this is kind of crazy experimental, but at the same time, we don’t want anyone to feel stupid.”
(director Bruce McDonald on the pre-production of the movie; Source: cbc.ca)
- “We were lucky to have her. I think she was excited to be in an intimate little collaboration after something like X-Men. We talked about music; she had a hand in casting. I think she really wants to be part of a creative team, and that doesn’t always happen.”
(director Bruce McDonald on actress Ellen Page; Source: cbc.ca)
- “It comes out. Literally, it’s like turning on a switch. People think, what do you to direct that? You talk about a common ground, a couple of reference points, share a couple of mix tapes so you know where you’re going. It’s not campy or funny or ironic; it’s a little dark, heart-beating romance. My job as a director is just to make a safe place. She really surprised me. I’m a pretty straight guy. I’m not a big fan of attempted rape or anything. I just want to get through scenes like that as quickly as possible. But she said it didn’t bother her. She says she kind of likes it because she gets to go to the dark places without real life consequences. That’s what being an actor is all about. As a young woman and young actress, everything is just on and she’s ready to go there. She’s smart enough and grounded enough to know that it’s pretend. A lot of other people just get lost in it. She’s courageous and intelligent and refreshing. A lot of people want to be actors but their motivation is to be famous, to be a celebrity. With Ellen, her aim is true.”
(Bruce McDonald on his involvement in coaxing Ellen’s performance and if it comes naturally to her; Source: filmleaf.net)
- "Ellen Page, who continually chooses challenging roles not for the Oscar, but for the experience, delivers another stand-out performance as Tracey. You name it, she conquers: from the cursing, to the partial nudity, to the attempted rape, Page pumps every inch of her soul into the role. McDonald wanted to remind the audience prior to the screening that this was ´just a story about a 15-year-old girl.´ “
“But it´s more than that - it´s a powerful, emotional, risky piece of filmmaking that comes at a time when the portrayal of teenage angst on screen is in desperate need of a makeover. Now, if only more films took that chance ..."
(Erik Davis, cinematical.com)
- "A daring film - but not in the competition. Something like the daring quality of the Canadian Bruce McDonald, who was enthusiastically received at the Hofer Filmtage in the past with his early Indie icons ´Roadkill´ and ´Highway 61´, would have been a welcome sight in the competition. In ´The Tracey Fragments´ he tells the story of a 15-year-old´s emotional confusion with a breathtakingly intense split-screen experiment."
(Arne Thomsen, Frankenpost.de)
- "The restlessness of the protagonist, the loops and the music remind us of ´Run, Lola, Run.´ The constant cuts and repetitions underline the oppressive, impressive mood of ´The Tracey Fragments.´ ... You can find it later in the video store between ´Donnie Darko´ and the ´Best-of-Michel-Gondry-DVD.´"
(Daniel Erk, jetzt.de)
- "The fascination and the respect for this elaborate technique are impressive. The actress Ellen Page sweeps across the screen in every scene like a whirlwind of sheer energy that winds down."
- "Fantastic - and already one of my favorite films at this year´s Berlinale. ... ´The Tracey Fragments´ is the greatest operatic performance featuring the artistic and painterly use of the split-screen technique since ´The Pillow Book´ and the split-screen sequences in ´Hulk´ ... All in all, it is precise and efficient, and well thought-out in its cognitive, psychological and especially sensual design."
- "The gifted Page is on a roll: this new performance will build an international audience."
(David D´Arcy, Screen International)
- "The Canadian independent production ´The Tracey Fragments´ is the highlight on the first day. Young Ellen Page delivers a fantastic tour de force. ... McDonald succeeds - also thanks to the fantastic Ellen Page - in mirroring the inner state of his heroine cinematically. An outstanding, deeply disturbing film that never betrays its subject."
(Christian Ihle, TAZ blog)
- "This is Bruce McDonald. Very small, very big."
(Julian Bauer, Schnitt Magazin)
- "Bruce McDonald establishes a unity where the individual elements form a symbiosis and actually allow for a very intense viewing experience. This also has to do with Ellen Page´s presence, who is virtually a gravitational field that prevents this cinematic centrifuge from tearing apart. The film goes beyond normality during these skillfully done sequences."
(Christoph Mayerl, perlentaucher.de)
- “On the Berlinale Competition: "Of course you can always suspect that film production worldwide didn´t have anything else to offer this spring, but if you look at the other sections you can see there were also films with a completely different approach other than the constant good-natured desire to produce art and the struggle for a good cause. The panorama opening film ´The Tracey Fragments´ by Bruce McDonald, for example, ... could have brought a breath of fresh air to the competition."
(Michael Althen, FAZ)
- “Technically innovative. I don't think anybody has used split screens quite this way or to this extent. But it's not just a technical tour de force. Ellen Page's performance is really strong. The film is very much about a runaway teenager and her fragmented consciousness. It packs an emotional wallop.”
(Marcus Robinson, playbackmag.com)
The Tracey Fragments RE-EDIT project is a Creative Commons licensed remixing initiative using all footage from the 4 week shoot of the movie. 4 separate file groups are released including the Final Cut Project Files. Each file, which has a file size around 4 to 5 gigabyte, contains hundreds of Quicktime Clips (.mov) with single scences from the independent production. These clips were used as fragments in the final movie and are now available on the BitTorrent Network.
You can get a complete new vision and perspective of the movie with these kind of raw material. Take a look behind the scences and have a real-life experience with the actors. 16 gigabyte for the whole material is very heavy, but it's worth it. Furthermore it’s remarkable, that Team Tracey has released this stuff before the cinematical release in October (Canada) and November 2007 (USA).
Check out the official movie website or the site www.bittorrent.com/users/the-tracey-fragments for more information.